The lights are on
Trophies, the achievement system for PlayStation, allows gamers to
track and log their accomplishments within a given game. For example,
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 contains trophies for killing 1000 enemies with
each weapon and for completing each chapter of the game as well as
completing the game on each difficulty. Many games contain a handful of
'hidden' trophies in which the requirements are not revealed until the
gamer achieves it.
Over time, more and more gamers play a game to collect as many if
not all of the trophies offered. This however doesn't evidence anything
about the game or gamer other than dedication to the game or at the
very least determination of the gamer. Killing 1000 enemies with a
particular weapon when the weapon is not better or worse than any other
weapon isn't an achievement - it's a time consuming activity, thus an
unimportant factor of the game in context to the point of the game.
This is more true when the point of the game is to play through the
story and learn the plot based objectives such as 'make your way to the Hyabusa Village.' One might argue that in games such as Battlefield 1943 in which trophies and badges such as "Capture 5 Flags" or "Capture 25 Flags"
lends proof to a players profiency to such tasks adds to overall
game-play, especially since they highlight objectives of the game. It
could also be added that trophies give indication to the style of
playing gamers have; players of Uncharted who obtained a trophy for
Brutal Brawler and 50 kills with the 9mm (over a lower kill ratio with
other weapons in other styles) may be considered as a player who likes
to get into the thick of things vs. a player who has trophies with the
Dragon Sniper Rifle and a heap of head shots. Still, the trophies add
no value to the game, only the perceived value of the player within a
certain game and while perception is context, there's a lot to be said
about actual performance in game as opposed to a pretty icon and what
it makes other players think. If we then take similar trophies across a
spectrum of games, players may establish themselves among a consistent
group of gamers as a certain type of gamer among a certain genre - but
again, there is no value added to the game through the trophies and
there remains proof to be in the pudding as it were.
Now, if we also look at the platinum level trophies we see that
those singular trophies are acquired by obtaining 'all other trophies'.
As mentioned earlier, some trophies are awarded for going through the
plot of the game. This means that the player is earning a trophy and
gaining ground on acquisition of the highest award for a task they've
set out to do by purchasing the game. Akin to giving someone an 'atta
boy' for successfully breathing, the trophies become a reward for doing
what the player is supposed to do.. All trophies lose value in context
to themselves at this point.
As it is, trophies have this 'unspoken' secondary purpose of adding replay value to a game. When you beat it, you can go back and work towards trophies, but the replay value of a game shouldnt' be dependent upon trophies. It should be dependent upon how well the game itself was executed.
Perhaps value of the trophies in context of game value can be
increased or at least expanded upon if developers were to develop more
games with multiple endings. Player would earn trophies based on the
endings they received. How nice would it have been to get a trophy for
getting the 'good' ending within Silent Hill, but also have trophies
for the "Alien" ending - or trophies for saving the brother in Advent
Rising (I know... that was an XBOX game, but work with me here), and
then get a trophy for saving the girlfriend during the second play
through. In this case, the trophy would add value to the game because
it would better promote replay value.
In the end - poorly-designed achievements incentivize poor play, and a
lack of teamwork and sportsmanship. If you need contrived goals to keep
the hamsters on the wheel, you'd serve your customers better by
building a better wheel.
Just a thought, here... Just a thought.
CAUTION: Shawn's blog increases the risk of intelligence.